2017 Conference Plenary Speakers

Monday, September 11, 2017

9:30 am - 10:30 am

Opening Plenary Session 

Welcome to San Diego! Join us to kick off the 2017 NCAN conference and hear from NCAN's Executive Director Kim Cook, NCAN's Board Chair Marlene Ibsen of the Travelers Foundation, and Michele Siqueiros from the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Kim Cook, Executive Director
Kim Cook, NCAN's executive director since 2008, has worked in the higher education and college access field for her entire professional career, including experience in undergraduate admissions and financial aid, administration of a last-dollar scholarship program, and a succession of responsibilities at NCAN including Director of Government Relations, Assistant Director and Executive Vice President. Ms. Cook also served as the Interim Executive Director of the Ohio College Access Network.

She serves on the College Board's College Planning Advisory Board, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors advisory panel, the National Education Working Group on Foster Care and Education and the editorial board of the Journal of College Access. She is often consulted to speak on federal policy issues and building college access networks and community-based college access programs. In 2016, she was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for College Opportunity.

Prior to joining NCAN in 1999, she was a Senior Program Associate at Plan for Social Excellence, Inc., a foundation supporting innovative projects in education, and served as its Grants Manager and Scholars Program Manager. Previously, she was as a college admission counselor at Pace University in New York. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from Pace University and a Bachelors degree in Communications, Law, Economics and Government from The American University (Washington, DC). She has completed continuing professional development through courses in Georgetown University’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Harvard University’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management institute.


Marlene M. Ibsen, Vice President, Community Relations Travelers, President & CEO Travelers Foundation

Marlene M. Ibsen is chief executive officer and president of Travelers Foundation and vice president, Community Relations, for The Travelers Companies, Inc. In her role, she manages the company’s giving practices, overseeing the distribution of approximately $20 million in charitable and civic support each year. She is also responsible for the company’s community-related employee engagement and development activities. Ms. Ibsen took on her current responsibilities in November 2007, and since then has developed a strategic approach for the company’s charitable giving, with a significant emphasis on increasing educational opportunities for underrepresented students.  

Under her direction, the Travelers Foundation and Travelers have launched three signature programs designed to meet community needs and align with business interests, including Travelers EDGE® (Empowering Dreams for Graduation & Employment), a nationally recognized, comprehensive, career pipeline program intended to increase the number of underrepresented individuals who complete bachelor's degrees and are prepared for a career in the Insurance and Financial Services industry. In addition, Ms. Ibsen has also led the development and implementation of an employee community involvement strategy in support of the company’s talent recruitment, retention and development priorities. 

Prior to her role in Community Relations, Ms. Ibsen worked as a vice president in Travelers Corporate Communications, supervising the communications staff responsible for media relations, corporate issues and business unit support. She has also worked in a variety of communications management roles at Travelers, including internal communications and marketing communications. Previously, Ms. Ibsen worked as a writer/producer and public relations consultant. In addition, she has experience working in communications and fundraising for nonprofit organizations. 

Ms. Ibsen holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from Texas Christian University, and an M.S. in Communications Management from Syracuse University. 

Ms. Ibsen currently serves as chair of the board of directors for the National College Access Network in Washington, D.C. In addition, she is a director of College Possible National in Saint Paul, Minn.; Hartford Promise (Conn.); and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving (Conn.). She also is a member of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship's Executive Forum.

Michele Siqueiros, President of The Campaign for College Opportunity

Michele Siqueiros was the first in her family to graduate from college thanks to federal, state, and college financial aid. She is passionate about the power of college to change lives, and the ability of policy making to expand or constrain college opportunity for others. 

As the President for The Campaign for College Opportunity, Michele works to expand access and success in college for California students by raising public attention on the critical challenges facing higher education, mobilizing a broad coalition of supporters, and influencing policymakers. The Campaign’s mission to increase college going and completion rates is driven by a strong belief that California’s future economic success depends on our ability to produce the best educated workforce in the nation and that our diverse population of young adults deserve the same opportunity provided to previous generations – regardless of race or socio-economic status.

Under her leadership in 2010, the Campaign led the effort for historic transfer reform that makes it easier for students to transfer from any California Community College to the California State University system.  The Campaign has assembled a statewide network of over 12,000 coalition supporters, involved over 50,000 young people and awarded over $670,000 in scholarship dollars; released prominent reports on higher education’s impact to the California economy, college access and success rates, and workforce needs; and sponsored and passed legislation to increase access to Pell Grants, promote college readiness, prioritize community college student success efforts and reform remedial education.  

Michele has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies with Honors in Chicano/a Studies from Pitzer College and a Master of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).


Monday, September 11, 2017

12:15 pm - 1:15 pm

Luncheon Plenary Session

Come hear best-selling author Wes Moore speak from his personal and professional experiences about the importance of postsecondary education in achieving goals, helping your community, and ending the cycle of poverty. Wes is a motivating and engaging speaker; we know you will enjoy and learn a lot from his presentation. 

Wes Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Robin Hood; Army Combat Veteran, Founder and best selling author

Wes Moore is the CEO of Robin Hood, one of the single largest anti-poverty forces in the nation. Wes is a combat veteran, a best-selling author, and a social entrepreneur. Before becoming CEO at Robin Hood, he was the founder and CEO at BridgeEdU, an innovative platform addressing the college completion and job placement crisis. BridgeEdU reinvents freshman year through high-touch and high-tech supports for students.

His books, “The Other Wes Moore,” and “The Work,” were instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, and captured a nation’s attention on the fragile and crucial line that divides success and failure in our communities and ourselves. 

Wes grew up in Baltimore and the Bronx, and despite childhood challenges, graduated Phi Theta Kappa from Valley Forge Military College in 1998 and Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. He earned an MLitt in International Relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 2004. Wes then served as a Captain and paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne, including a combat deployment to Afghanistan. He later served as a White House Fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.